With the arrival of the K-22s in Kyrgyzstan, after a brief stop in gorgeous Issyk-Kul, they’ve entered their three-month training period, called Pre-Service Training (or PST). PST focuses on everything from language to culture to navigating both the transportation systems of Kyrgyzstan and the bureaucracy of Peace Corps service, and is their first taste of how new Trainees will survive the coming two years of service. Trainees will live in villages, alternating time between small language classes and big group classes.
For me, PST was two-and-a-half sweaty months in a village, both difficult and easy. Days dedicated to language learning, a combination of presentations from Peace Corps Headquarters in DC and the Kyrgyz-specific realities of service, and getting to know the group of Trainees living and serving with me over the 27 months of life in Kyrgyzstan. It is also a distant reality compared to my life in service. PST is the only time I have felt in my life as a Volunteer that has had a rigid structure, the only time I have been told what to do and what to learn – everything else in the past year has been on me. And for that, PST is both easy and difficult.
And here I am, right back in the middle of it. For the coming few weeks, I will be living alongside these new Trainees as they begin to understand and explore Kyrgyzstan, working as a Volunteer Trainer for the incoming group of Health Education Volunteers. It’s an exciting thing for me – to be able to return to the abstract, starry-eyed conversations about what it means to be a Volunteer, what it means to commit to two years of service in the Kyrgyz Republic, but also to meet this incredible (and incredibly large) group of individuals who have come to be a part of this crazy and chaotic Peace Corps Community.
So, for the coming few weeks, I will be living in a small village around an hour outside of Bishkek and working with these new Trainees, attempting to answer their myriad questions, and, hopefully, helping them prepare for their lives as Volunteers. Their excitement is infectious, and I am so happy and lucky to be a part of the first few weeks of their experience here.
Image: K22 Health Education Trainees at Orientation, with our Program Manager Ainagul-Eje on the left, and me on the right.